tv Adam Schiff Expresses Concerns About White House Handling of Classified... CSPAN March 30, 2017 10:27pm-10:52pm EDT
discusses how america runs have -- americans have lost faith in experts and why that is a problem. beginning live at 7:00 a.m. eastern, friday morning. join the discussion. adam schiff is the lead democrat on the house intelligence committee. received an he invitation of the white house to review the classified documents. congressman schiff has criticized the intelligence committee chair, devin nunes, for discussing the documents with the media before showing them to democrats on the committee. the news briefing is 20 minutes. rep. schiff: good afternoon. this afternoon, i received a letter from white house counsel inviting me to review materials at the white house that pertain to the issue of incidental
collection. the letter asked that the committee look into whether these materials were properly gathered, whether they were properly masked or unmasked and properly disseminated, all matters which are within the course of duties of the committee. we have sent the white house a reply. i'm more than willing to come to the white house at the earliest opportunity to review the materials. i did make clear in my letter, however, that it will be ultimately necessary to share these materials with the full committee and we will need their cooperation as well to work with the agencies who have custody over the original documents. when analyzing questions whether something is properly the subject of incidental collection or whether it was properly unmasked or the distribution list is appropriate, that is impossible to do without consulting the agencies to find out how the materials were gathered and why there was a need to know in case of any unmasking of names.
this is not something that is going to be apparent on the face of the document. it is also not something that i think either chair or ranking member alone can somehow adjudicate. i did express in my reply to white house counsel, though, my profound concern with the way these materials are being made available to the committee. my profound concern with the way these materials are being made available to the committee. on the same day that the "new york times" broke a story saying that the source of the materials that were provided to our chairman was, in fact, national security counsel staff. i was informed in a letter from white house counsel that national security council staff found these materials in the ordinary course of business. now, that timing concerns me. if, in fact, the national security council staff that discovered these materials reportedly in the ordinary course of business are the same national security staff that provided them to the chairman to
be provided to the president, it raises a profound question of why they were not directly provided to the white house by the national security staff and instead were provided through a route through the chairman. if that was designed to hide the origin of the materials, that raises profound questions about just what the white house is doing that need to be answered. and i have asked the white house for their assistance in answering those questions as well. the third point i want to make in addition to what will be necessary to answer the questions the white house has asked us to look at in terms of the procedures, we will look into that. we want to find out also if, in fact, these are the same materials or subset of the same materials earlier provided to the chairman, why that method to use the diplomatic term was
employed to provide them to the committee. i want to make one point, this issue is not going to distract us from doing our russia investigation. if that's the object here, they will not be successful. we will look into what the russians did to influence our elections, we will not be deterred or distracted. issues of incidental collection is important and we will oversee them, but we will get to the bottom of what the russians did and how they did it and whether there was coordination or collusion with u.s. persons including persons with the trump campaign. that work will go on regardless. i'm happy to answer any of your questions. reporter: can you clarify for us, ordinary course of business, national security council staff discovered documents in response to your march 15 letter. you do not know if these are the same documents that the chairman reviewed on white house grounds last week?
mr. schiff: none of us have any way of knowing. only the white house knows the answer to that question and we should ask them. i have to say it is highly concerning to me on the same day that the "new york times" story reports, and i don't know whether the "new york times" sources are accurate about whether the two people mentioned in that story. but the fact that sean spicer yesterday had no idea who may have been involved in that review by the chairman, today they suddenly do, you know, raises a lot of very difficult questions for the white house. but again, we need to get to the bottom of whether these same staff that discovered these materials were trying to use a circuitous method of delivering them back to the president. that obviously would be deeply disturbing. reporter: when you say you will
not be distracted, but that already appears to be the case. your investigation has ground to a halt because of all of these questions and because of a lot of politics. how can the american public still have confidence in this investigation? mr. schiff: there is no question there is a cloud over the investigation as a result of the way the materials were provided, if indeed we are talking about the same documents here. what i'm saying is, and i speak for the democrats on the committee and i hope i speak for the republicans on the committee, this is too important to not go forward. we are determined to go forward. whatever obstacles are put in our way. i have been very frank what i consider some of the conflicts here. ultimately, it's up to the speaker who conducts this investigation on the g.o.p. side. i can only be responsible for what we do on the democratic side. but we are not going to be distracted. we are going to continue to call witnesses. and we have the representations
of the majority that they will support the witnesses that we want to hear before the committee. we are going to go forward. but as significant as this is now, there's just know way we -- no way we can allow investigation to be deterred from the much more important issues at stake. reporter: when you met with mr. nunes today, did he reveal anything about the source of the information, whether the white house has any involvement or getting on the white house grounds or the two sources? mr. schiff: we didn't get into any level of detail on that issue. our focus during our conversation was how do we go forward in terms of the witnesses we want to testify, how we go forward in terms of the hearings we had scheduled that were canceled and getting the hearings back on track.
that was the length and scope of our discussion. as i mentioned earlier, it isn't an easy conversation at the moment, but this work has to go on. and you know, i'm prepared to work with whoever i need to to make sure that we get to the bottom line here. reporter: is there any impact -- is there any headway involving this impasse in bringing sally yates or director comey. it is my understanding you are withholding your signature on a letter inviting director comey back. is there any progress involving this impasse? mr. schiff: i wouldn't say we are withholding anything. we signed the letter that the chairman wanted. we invited comey and rogers to come back and we have presented a letter for the chairman's
signature for inviting sally yates and clapper and brennan. the chairman has yet to sign that letter. i hope he will. that will be in the interest of the public. the white house has made clear now they want sally yates to testify. we want sally yates to testify and she is fully prepared to testify, so the only obstacle is the signature of the chairman and we hope we get that. reporter: you wrote a letter first? mr. schiff: white house counsel wrote a letter to us, i think 's press secretary referred to, we received that effectively at the same time with him announcing it during the press conference and that letter invited the chair and i, in response to questions i had raised, to review these materials. but again, we have accepted. i'll go read them. i look forward to it. it is ultimately going to be necessary if the white house really wants us to answer the questions they have raised, with
the full committee to look at this, not just the ranking and chair, and we need support of the agencies, because they will be the depository information about how the materials were gathered and what procedures were followed. reporter: if you do it in the same format as the chairman -- would you do it in the same format? mr. schiff: i have no idea what format the chairman has viewed them, or what materials were viewed. one of the questions i asked the white house in my responsive letter is, are these the same materials? if these are the same materials or subset are the same materials, why weren't they presented in a more transparent way to the committee? that's the diplomatic way of putting it. a lot of unanswered questions. the letter i got from white
house counsel certainly raises far more questions than any it answers and among the most significant questions at the moment is, are these the same white house staff that reportedly discovered them in the ordinary course of business, and if they are, they just walk down the hall or across the plaza and present it to the white house staff or the president himself at any time. so why all the cloak and dagger stuff? and that's something we need to get to the bottom of. i hope we will get the cooperation of the white house as well. reporter: a timeline? mr. schiff: i'm ready to go any time. i'm happy to go tomorrow. if they are ready tomorrow, i'm ready to go tomorrow. reporter: [indiscernible] do you think the house ethics
committee should be investigating? mr. schiff: i don't know the answer on the classification issue. i don't want any involvement in any ethics questions. i have a investigation to try to run as the minority ranking member and i'm keeping my focus on that, so that's not an issue i want to get into. the conversation with nunesan newness -- [indiscernible] mr. schiff: we had a hiatus from the hearings but the work didn't stop. we are still reviewing the voluminous materials as well as developing our witness list and we have finalized a witness list. the way these investigations work, you start out with a set of witnesses that you want to interview first and that leads you to more information about further witnesses. this is not the last, final or comprehensive witness list, but we did discuss whether we could come to an agreement on the
witnesses we both want to bring in. and i think we have made a lot of progress on that score. and at the same time, we had a long discussion about the hearing that was canceled and how to get that hearing scheduled once again. it is my hope that the chairman will reschedule the hearing that he postponed. according to the chair, the only holdup was he wanted to have this closed hearing first. so we'll have the closed hearing first and that will remove any obstacle going forward with the hearing we committed going -- committed to doing. reporter: [indiscernible] mr. schiff: i don't know when that will happen. reporter: are you aware of any other concerns from sally yates in relationship to john brennan or the other witnesses, has the administration expressed any concern about them testifying in open hearing? mr. schiff: no. directors clapper and brennan have testified frequently in
open session. and i think senator king said in a articulate way today how important it is that this investigation be done not just in private but in public. if we do this entire investigation in private and ultimately we reach a conclusion, even if we are able to agree on the conclusion, it's not going to have the public's confidence if they are not part of this investigation and if they are not read into it, it's going to look like some backroom deal. we really need to be sure as much of this we can do publicly, we should. obviously a lot we cannot do publicly out of necessity. but there is no reason why sali yates can't testify in public. reporter: speaker ryan said that this is a whistleblower person. [indiscernible]
mr. schiff: you know, it certainly doesn't sound like what i would consider a whistleblower. we have procedures for whistleblowers to come to the committee. when they come to the committee, they are protected and provide whatever materials or information they have and they are protected. that procedure wasn't followed here. and if we're talking about not people from the agencies -- and again i don't know whether the "new york times" has it right or wrong, but if we are talking about national security staff, they could go to white house counsel. there are mechanisms in place to share this information. if the object here was to give it to somebody to give it to the president, it makes it bewildering why it wasn't taken president, the particularly if one of those individuals is the director of intelligence at the national security council. they have frequent access to the president. they don't need our chairman to
deliver something to the president that they can deliver themselves. and so to me, this looks like nothing like a whistleblower case. and again, i think the white house needs to answer is this a case where they wish to effectively launder information through our committee to avoid the true source of the information. the white house needs to answer. [indiscernible] mr. schiff: you know, i have to say, we have been a bit overtaken by events. we have our witness lists and they have theirs. we have exchanged witness lists. i understand there is a lot of common agreement. and we may have something more to say by the end of the day, but frankly, as in every day in this investigation, you wake up
and think it's going to be one kind of day and turns out to be quite a different day. so that is something we are still focused on and try to resolve if not today than tomorrow. reporter: the two individuals named in the "new york times" story, do you want to talk to those individuals or your staff? mr. schiff: we need to get to the bottom of whether this was some strategy by the white house. obviously that would be deeply concerning to us and if it's necessary for us to interview these two individuals, then we should do so. but i have to say i'm more than perplexed by how these materials have been put forward and the motivation behind it. and i do think that the white house has a lot of questions to answer. so we are going to do our best to find out.
reporter: why do you think the invitation was extended to you today in the manner that it was? mr. schiff: the timing certainly looks fortuitous and probably more than fortuitous. but the letter said that the ranking member has been asking to review these materials, which i have. that suggests that these are the same materials that the chairman has reviewed. and if that's the case, it begs the question, why all the subterfuge if that's what it was. maybe there is an easy explanation here. i don't understand it. but i hope that they will have an explanation for just why they have used this path to provide materials to the committee. reporter: you are suggesting it but not saying it. you personally believe that the white house has been working
with chairman nunes to undermine and undercut this investigation? mr. schiff: the only thing i will say is, again, trying to keep the focus on what's the best route to doing a credible investigation. if there has been a substantial question about whether we can do that, then we need to take whatever steps are necessary to restore credibility to the investigation. and i don't want to speak for the chairman. i think you can and have asked him these questions. i do want to try to keep my focus on what's the path forward here? and to do my best to cordon off any distraction, keep our eye site on what truly is at stake here. and again, just as i'm sure is quite mystifying to the country, people need to understand the context.
we had a foreign power intervene in our election. that's not about whether that was decisive or not. it doesn't matter. they intervened in a significant way. our intelligence community has concluded, not democrats or republicans, but the intelligence community that the russians will do it again and indeed are doing it right now in europe. we need to understand what they have done here and understand if they had help from u.s. persons here. that is the mission. the rest may be important, but that is the mission. and i'm going to do my best to keep my focus on that mission. when we run into obstacles, and we ran into a huge obstacle this week with all of this, i want to be candid about whether it poses a problem for the credibility of our investigation, and it has.
but at the same time, i want to keep as focused as i can in making sure that we get the investigation done. reporter: [indiscernible] mr. schiff: i don't know whether -- i don't know anything about the materials yet, so i'm not in a position to say whether these were intercepts between attorney -- foreign parties and i don't know if these were foreign intercepts. again, i'm in the enviable position or unenviable position of not knowing what these materials are. but i think people need to understand the process of figuring out how these were collected, were they properly collected, disseminated, masked or unmasked, we look at these issues all the time. this isn't new for our committee, which makes it so
unusual, irregular that it would be presented to us in this way. this is within our ordinary wheelhouse. there is a proper way to put this before the committee. that certainly was not followed here. and the white house ought to explain why that wasn't followed here, but there is a good way to answer these questions and we will do our best to answer these questions, but we will not lose sight of the russia investigation and we will keep focused on that. reporter: has there been any staffers'your computers? mr. schiff: i'm not aware of anything like that. thank you very much. [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2017] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] >> this weekend, the c-span cities tour with the help of our comcast cable partners will explore the literary scene and
history of chico, california. saturday at noon eastern on a book tv, and author tells us about the founder of chico in his book. important and long-lasting was the relationship with the federal government, his close relationship with the department of agriculture. sent --onstantly being he was constantly corresponding with officials at the usda and possibly receiving from them different crops they wanted tested in california's soil and climate. they really used rancho chico as one of their early experimental farms before the owned and ran their own. on sunday at 2:00 p.m. eastern on american history tv, we visit the california state university farm. >> it is the number one industry
in california and we are the number one agriculture stay in the nation. there are 23 csu campuses but only for have agriculture appeared chico represents the northern part of the state but we draw students from all over california to get experience and agriculture. >> we will also go inside the chico museum to see the historic chinese altar from the chico chinese temple. watch c-span's cities tour of chico, california. afternoon on c-span3. working with our cable affiliates and visiting cities across the country. more now from today's intelligence committee hearing. keith alexander talks about how to prevent cyber attacks and